FORMULA: The Paradise Syndrome + Who Watches the Watchers + In the Hands of the Prophets + Nostradamus's Centuries
WHY WE LIKE IT: FINALLY! Sisko is the Emissary.
WHY WE DON'T: It took this long.
REVIEW: It's been a long time coming, but the show is finally owning up to this Emissary business, and in style. See, prophecy is part of the Bajoran faith, and they were penned by people who were ostensibly contacted by the Prophets who can't really tell past from future, so... does Sisko let himself be guided by these prophecies, or does he go his own way? His instinct is right: Given that these texts were translated many times and were steeped in metaphor to begin with, there's no way to use them reliably to predict or (if it is even possible) change the future.
Kira is our gateway to this mystical world, and it's fun to see her realize little by little that the prophecy is coming true. Interesting as well is the revelation that she believes Sisko to be a religious icon, but has kept, by necessity, her faith and work separate. They all get it wrong of course, and the vipers turn out not to be the Cardassian scientists invited thanks to the treaty signed in Life Support. Actually, they might still be, since they do cause the "burning of the Temple Gates" to happen. These gals are fairly fun, progressive Cardassians who don't care much for their own culture, but dogged by an Obsidian Order observer.
Of course, Tracy Coggins' saucy Ghilora is the highlight of the group, though the reverse sexism/sexual harassment subplot is a bit silly. Don't get me wrong, it's good fun seeing O'Brien in this predicament, but it does happen a bit suddenly. Still, it's rare to get good Cardassian eye candy. I like her "neck shadow". Oh and while we're talking about eye candy, this marks the first appearance of the tiny shuttlepod, the Defiant's answer to shuttles, and features some really nice comet-going-through-the-wormhole effects.
Though the overall story is served by now allowing communications to go through the Wormhole, it's Sisko's growth that is at the heart of this story. At the start, he's is dubious, even suspicious, of his place in Bajoran mythology. Odo rightly calls him on his agenda to ignore his Emissaryship at all cost. But at the end, he takes an active interest in prophecies about him (any guesses as to what the fiery trial where the Emissary must make a decision is meant to be? I say Rapture). This is a natural outgrowth of his acceptance, at the start of the season, that DS9 and Bajor are his home. He only needed this experience to really take his role to heart.
LESSON: The Prophets are never wrong. The translators however...
REWATCHABILITY - Medium-High: An important watermark for Sisko who, after staying behind the scenes far too much in previous seasons, is taking a more central role.